The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Escaping Acopian: SEES celebrates Engineers Week with sustainable escape room

Photo by Jen-Feng Liu for The Lafayette
Students could find a number of sustainability-related Easter eggs among the clues in SEES’s escape room.

This week, students packed their bags and trekked north in search of a Lafayette alum who went missing while studying polar ice caps. The search parties didn’t require parkas or survival gear, however – instead, the expedition took place in an unused office in Acopian Engineering Center.

The Society of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (SEES) hosted an Arctic-themed escape room from Tuesday to Thursday in celebration of Engineers Week, a nationally recognized event that occurs every February. The escape room, which was actually the reconfigured office of a professor on sabbatical, tasked students with taking on the roles of Arctic researchers. Participants had 40 minutes to find the whereabouts of the mysterious John Pigman before their research facility ran out of power.

“The only available resources are the students who are studying abroad,” Danny Demelfi ‘23, the vice president of SEES, explained. “So you have to hurry and find the last traces of John before his location is lost forever.”

The escape room included hidden clues such as codes, emails, secret keys and documents, in addition to locked boxes made out of spare cardboard. A chief task for SEES members was making the room out of reusable or recyclable materials. This undertaking taught the organizers lessons about living sustainably.

“We were looking at getting props and stuff and we’re like, ‘Oh, well, we can buy these things and do this,’ but we ended up getting a bunch of stuff from Acopian that we already had,” Isabelle Giorgis ‘24 said. “That’s forwarding our sustainability outcome instead of buying a bunch of new things.”

In addition to posters scattered throughout the room promoting proper recycling and Leopard Leftovers, the escape room clues themselves encourage sustainable living practices – or as SEES president Zach Fiske ’23 put it: “We would disguise learning as fun.”

“There’s only so much power in this Arctic research base,” Ian Leiby ’25 explained. “Some things need to be turned off and the person you’re trying to find in here, John Pigman, isn’t doing that. He needs to unplug his non-essentials.”

Jordan Sigal ‘26 said, however, that just unplugging everything is “not really practical for a lot of people.”

“We took these cardboard boxes and wrote, like, ‘life support,’ ‘oxygen filter,’ [or] ‘heating,’ to kind of simulate things that you would need to leave plugged in,” Sigal said. “And this way it’s kind of a challenge.”

The escape room, chock full of Easter eggs and memes, turned out to be a hit. A handful of engineering faculty hope to try out the escape room on Saturday while a Chinese professor inquired about running a Chinese-themed escape room later in the semester.

“We can hear all the noises that [the participants] are making,” Demelfi said. “So when they’re struggling, they’re screaming, but then when they finally get it, they’re like, ‘Yes!’ It’s really nice to hear and, like, validating because we worked on it.”

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About the Contributors
Trebor Maitin, Managing Editor
Pennsylvania enthusiast.
Jen-Feng Liu, Staff Photographer

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